NuScale reports 20 percent boost in SMR output

NuScale Power on June 6 reported that its small modular reactor can generate 20 percent more power than originally planned. NuScale said that advanced testing and modeling tools helped NuScale “identify optimization opportunities and increased power generation.”

NuScale said that its first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, will benefit from the optimization without licensing or construction delays.

NuScale said that increasing the power generating capacity of a 12-module NuScale SMR plant by 20 percent – with a minimal change in capital costs -- lowers the cost of the facility on a per kilowatt basis from an expected $5,000 to approximately $4,200.

It also lowers NuScale’s levelized cost of electricity by up to 18 percent, “making it even more competitive with other electricity generation sources,” the company said in a news release.

The new gross output of a NuScale power plant is 720 MWe (megawatts electric).

UAMPS is planning the development of a 12-module NuScale plant.

“This new development is yet another way NuScale is changing the SMR game and pioneering this technology in the United States,” said UAMPS CEO Doug Hunter. “This substantial reduction in cost per kilowatt is not only incredibly good news for the country’s first SMR plant, which we are thrilled to be deploying, but also because it will increase the value of our plant over time.”

The first commercial 12-module NuScale power plant is planned to be built on the site of the Idaho National Laboratory.

UAMPS in 2016 took a step forward in the development of its Carbon Free Power Project by identifying a preferred site within the boundary of the DOE's Idaho National Laboratory site near Idaho Falls, Idaho. The site selection process was conducted in collaboration with the DOE.

The Utah public power agency, which provides electricity at wholesale to more than 40 community-owned electric utilities in the Intermountain West, previously noted that it is studying the feasibility of deploying up to 12 small modular reactors at the Idaho site. One of its partners on the project is NuScale Power.

Another public power entity, Energy Northwest, will operate the SMR plant.

In 2016, the American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments program approved a $125,000 grant to help UAMPS in its efforts to prepare a COL application to submit to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the SMR project. The grant was part of $436,250 in utility project grants and scholarships that were announced by the DEED program in April 2016.

Regulatory process

NuScale noted that the regulatory process of increasing the level of maximum reactor power at which a nuclear plant can operate is referred to as a power uprate.

The 20 percent power increase will be reviewed separately and not impact the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s current design review of NuScale’s SMR or the scheduled September 2020 approval date of its design certification application, or DCA.

NuScale pointed out that because it made this determination before any plant construction or equipment manufacture, UAMPS will reap the benefit of this optimization without licensing or construction delays.

In January, the NRC agreed that NuScale’s SMR design approach requires no safety-related power to safely shut down.

NuScale on April 30 announced that the NRC has completed the first and most intensive phase of review for NuScale Power’s design certification application.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on April 27 said that the U.S. Department of Energy has selected 13 projects to receive approximately $60 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development for advanced nuclear technologies.

The DOE said that funding opportunity announcement covers three funding pathways including a First-of-a-Kind Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway. This is intended to address major advanced reactor design development projects or complex technology advancements for existing plants which have significant technical and licensing risk and have the potential to be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s.

One of the projects chosen under the First-of-a-Kind Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway involves NuScale Power. The project will conduct design finalization activities and ensure supply chain readiness to meet a commercial operation date of 2026 for the first NuScale plant, with the DOE providing $40 million in funding. Non-DOE funding totals another $40 million.